Real-time detection and identification of aqueous chlorine transformation products using QTOF MS

Brett J. Vanderford, Douglas B. Mawhinney, Fernando L. Rosario-Ortiz, Shane A. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A screening technique has been developed that allows the rapid, real-time detection and identification of major transformation products of organic contaminants during aqueous oxidation experiments. In this technique, a target contaminant is dissolved in buffered water and chlorinated by the addition of sodium hypochlorite to give a free chlorine residual of 3 mg/L. Solution from the reaction vessel is combined with methanol and pumped directly into the electrospray ionization source of a quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometer (QTOF MS). The realtime decay of the target contaminant and the formation/decay of transformation products are then monitored using the QTOF MS. Subsequently, accurate mass measurements with internal mass calibration (<5 ppm mass error) and product ion scans are employed to identify these transformation products. Unlike other techniques, it requires no liquid chromatography, derivatization, or quenching of residual chlorine, all of which can interfere with transformation product analysis. To validate the technique, aqueous chlorination experiments were performed on triclosan, a previously studied environmental contaminant Earlier research showing that triclosan underwent chlorine addition to form mono- and dichlorinated transformation products was successfully reproduced, demonstrating the feasibility of the technique. In addition, the technique revealed the formation of a stable oxygen radical-containing transformation product resulting from the oxidation of either mono- or dichlorinated triclosan. This triclosan transformation product was determined to have an empirical formula of C12H4O3Cl 4 with 3.9 ppm mass error. Furthermore, atorvastatin, a commonly prescribed medication and environmental contaminant, was subjected to aqueous chlorination and studied with the technique. Atorvastatin underwent hydroxylation to form two transformation products with the empirical formulas C33H34FN2O6 (1.8 ppm mass error) and C26H29O5NF (2.9 ppm mass error).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4193-4199
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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